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Mercedes W04 Launch – Technical Analysis
Following on from the debacle Mercedes made of a pre-launch on Saturday the team have unveiled their 2013 challenger at Jerez this morning.
As we expected from first glance their isn’t anything revolutionary on the car and just like many of the other teams the car represents a step forward from it’s predecessor.
Above: Mercedes W04 – Front Wing & Nose
Above: Front Wing & Nose of the W03 at Interlagos in Brazil
At the front of the car the Front Wing carries over from the W03 which I’d assume like the other teams is simply a placeholder and we will see an evolution over the next few days/tests. The Front Wing Pylons are also a direct carry over from it’s predecessor and are likely to remain unless the team decide to re-design their nose. In terms of the nose the team have opted to use a vanity panel in order to smooth out the central portion of the nosecone but the outer ridges and general flattened approach at the tip remain, giving the impression of a semi step nose. Underneath the nose the L Shaped turning vanes remain (at least for now)
The team continue to utilize push rod suspension at the front of the car but have amended the position of the FOM cameras to a more forward position which alter the airflow presented to the suspension and control arm members.
Above: The W04 Sidepod Configuration
Above: The W03’s Sidepod Configuration
As we can see in the comparison images above some amendments have been made to the Sidepods and associated aero in order to fully extract performance from the Semi-Coanda setup. The Inlet has been re-sculpted and raised in order to further allow the airflow passage through the undercut, whilst on top of the Sidepod we find an additional Vortex Generator. In front of this the team used a singular cockpit fin underneath the mirror mount in the latter part of 2012 whilst now they have opted to place 3 fins each with increasing magnitude as they tail backward. These fins help to vorticise the airflow that travels over the Sidepod reducing the boundary layer (Boundary Layer increases with distance).
The Vertical Sidepod Airflow Conditioner that’s mounted outbound of the Sidepod on the edge of the floor has also been amended to cater for the re-shaping of the Inlet and Undercut.
As we can see in the rearward facing shot above the Sidepods top edge utilises a long downwash ramp to the exhaust channel. The 3 slots to the side of the exhaust channel are used for exiting radiator airflow and will aid in the manipulation of the exhausts intended target.
The Semi-Coanda exhaust system the team employed throughout stages of their 2012 campaign has been re-purposed in the W04’s layout. The tail or overhang has been re-orientated and raised to better utilise the effects of the Coanda system as the team struggled when they first introduced it last season. The Coke Bottle area affords good room for airflow with what looks like a scalloping of the floor leading the starter motor area making for gains in the diffuser. In the lower image also notice the curved vertical floor strake which should create an elongated vortex between the floor and tyre helping to seal the diffuser by manipulating the exhaust plumes reach. We can also see that the team have adopted a Tyre Squirt reducing slot ahead of the rear wheel to further aid in this area, however in order for this to be legal there must be a break in the floor which from the images we have of this area I can’t see one yet.
From this aerial view it would appear that Mercedes like McLaren, Force India, Ferrari and Sauber have also followed Red Bull’s lead in the adoption of using the Lower Wishbone to shroud the halfshafts negating the Magnus effect and how it effects the exhaust plume.
We can also see Mercedes continue to use their small throated entrance Monkey Seat and perforated diffuser gurney.
From the outset the W04 looks like a solid re-interpretation of the W03 we will just have to wait to see if Mercedes continue to assess the DRD they tested last season and as we can see from the last image they do have a centralised mounting hanger on the underside of the mainplane.
Check back throughout the day, as more images are revealed I’ll undoubtedly pick up on more details.